Up to 60 children who are struggling due to trauma such as bereavement, family breakdown, bullying or domestic abuse will now receive help from Clear Sky Children’s Charity thanks to a £15,000 grant from Berkshire Freemasons via the Masonic Charitable Foundation

The charity currently operates in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire and offer one to one support for children and joint play therapy sessions with children and their parents. They also support the wellbeing of children in schools by producing resources to train and support teachers so that they can help the children they teach.

Anna Hodgson, Captain of Clear Sky, said: 'Our children are facing a mental health crisis and we know how to help. Our aim is for all children to be happy, love life and enjoy school. This grant will enable us to provide one to one play and creative arts therapy for up to 60 children over the next three years.

'For every £1 spent on early intervention, it saves society £15 in the future. We are grateful to Berkshire Freemasons for their support in helping us towards our £80,000 fundraising target.'

Anthony Howlett-Bolton, the leader of Berkshire Freemasons, said: 'I am pleased that the Masonic Charitable Foundation have recognised the important contribution Clear Sky make to the wellbeing of children in our area and that this grant will be used to make a difference in young peoples’ lives. I encourage teachers to contact the charity as there will be children in your schools who would benefit from the support they offer.'

Maurice Dixon, who leads the newly proposed Didcot Masonic Lodge, and Keith Winterbone who leads Ingham Clark Lodge, visited the charity to find out more about their work and were treated to an example of play therapy by Becky Hill, Head of Therapeutic Thinking.

Maurice said: 'I have worked with young people and schools for many years and recognise that children face huge disadvantages if they do not receive help early on. Sophia (CEO “Chief of Enthusiasm & Optimism” and founder) has created a highly qualified team with a breadth of experience and the Didcot lodges are delighted to be able to support this local charity.'

Individuals and fundraisers can support the charity by going to their website here and making a donation.

Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £15,000 to help Carers Milton Keynes to both extend and continue to provide vital support to unpaid carers in the area

The grant comes via the Masonic Charitable Foundation and will help them to increase and improve the support given to older carers, specifically carers aged 50 or over.

Carers Milton Keynes is a charity which supports the health and wellbeing of unpaid carers looking after a family member, friend or neighbour who cannot manage without them due to illness, physical or learning disability, frailty, mental health issues or additional needs.

The support available from Carers Milton Keynes includes advice, information and guidance, emotional support and counselling, young carers and young adult carers support, carers support groups and training courses.

Carers Milton Keynes commented: 'This generous award will enable us to grow the service to its full potential.'

Victims of the recent flash flooding that has hit hundreds of homes across the dales, including Arkengarthdale, Reeth, Leyburn and Bellerby, are being helped by a grant of £25,000 from Yorkshire Freemasons

The grant includes £5,000 each from Freemasons in Yorkshire West Riding and Yorkshire North and East Ridings, as well as £15,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons’ national charity. The money is being given to the Two Ridings Community Foundation, which has launched an appeal to help householders and local businesses.

Local Freemasons’ lodges are also raising funds for the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team as well as a small local charity in the village of Reeth, which was especially badly hit by the floods.

The grant will help vulnerable or elderly people or families to get back on their feet by replacing essential items such as carpets, basic furniture or white goods or by assisting with repairs. This support is especially needed by those who were not able to afford insurance or for those who have properties for which insurance companies have refused to provide cover.

It will also provide assistance to those local businesses in the area facing hardship as a result of the floods. This could include replacing tools or equipment or loss of earnings to tide people over while businesses recover.

Jan Garrill, Chief Executive of Two Ridings Community Foundation, said: 'We’re hugely grateful to Yorkshire freemasons for their generous grant, which will allow us to help the hundreds of local people who have suffered serious losses, many of whom are especially vulnerable. It can take years to fully recover from a major flood and getting immediate help can make a massive difference.”

Jeff Gillyon from Yorkshire Freemasons said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help local people across the dales who have suffered in the recent floods. Damage and disruption from a major flood can be a terrible blow for anyone, but especially for elderly people, the very young, or those with disabilities. I’m delighted that the freemasons are able to do their part in helping our community recover.'

Following a meeting at Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in Porthpean Road, St. Austell, David Leaity, the recently appointed Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Cornish Freemasons, attended to present a significant grant donation of £18,975 in support of the charity Cornwall Hospice Care

David, supported by Mike Pritchard, Provincial Grand Charity Steward of Cornwall, met with Cornwall Hospice Care Chief Executive Paul Brinsley together with Major Gifts Manager Paul Jones and Senior Nurse Claire Collings. 

The grant is part of the Masonic Charitable Foundation Grant Scheme and will assist with new wide-ranging support options for Cornwall Bereavement Friendship Groups run by Cornwall Hospice Care and CRUSE Bereavement Care, throughout Cornwall. 

Paul Brinsley, Chief Executive of Cornwall Hospice Care, was delighted to receive the grant and was humbled by the continued and generous support the Hospice community receives from the Cornish Freemasons, year on year.

Paul Jones, Major Gifts Manager, commented: 'Cornwall Hospice Care is very grateful for the ongoing benevolence of the Freemasons in Cornwall. With this latest grant, we are able to set up bereavement support groups in the county, alongside our partner CRUSE Cornwall. This will help individuals to learn new ways of coping with their emotions in bereavement and to have the opportunity to explore their feelings related to grief and bereavement in a safe environment.'

Last year Cornwall Hospice Care and CRUSE Cornwall contributed to research which showed that in Cornwall almost half of those people asked (six hundred and five people) who were bereaved, didn’t feel they had enough support in bereavement. Friends and family were the main sources of support and whilst this is invaluable, there was little or no opportunity for support from trained counsellors or specialist support workers.

The grant will enable the delivery of telephone support, friendship groups in the community and group support. These groups will provide important social interaction where bereaved people can be welcomed and access one to one meetings with trained volunteers, receive advice and information, social support and further one-to-one support if required.  

Each group will also work in collaboration with other agencies to maximise resources and skills. Trained volunteers will deliver skilled, sensitive support to improve wellbeing by providing comfort, hope and encouragement during this difficult period of adjustment. Helping more recently bereaved people to be reintegrated with the community and feel less isolated. 

David Leaity remarked: 'On behalf of the Freemasons of Cornwall, their families and friends, and of course the Masonic Charitable Foundation, it is a huge honour and privilege to continue to support our local Hospices. The dedication from all at Cornwall Hospice Care and CRUSE Cornwall is something to behold. Our Masonic fraternity here in Cornwall and beyond is very proud to support all local communities and charities.'

Mike Pritchard added: 'Once again, we see our values proudly displayed by further charitable support being made by the members of our Masonic organisation here in Cornwall.We are absolutely delighted the grant has been awarded from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, to help and support Cornwall Hospice Care and CRUSE Cornwall.'

Parents who need to provide their seriously ill children with round-the-clock care will be able to take a much-needed rest thanks to a £7,600 grant from East Lancashire Freemasons

The grant to Lagan's Foundation will help provide trained carers to offer parents of children with severe heart and feeding issues some vital support and respite. Lagan's will use the money to recruit and train new carers so that more families can benefit from the breaks that the charity offers.

Caring for a seriously ill child over an extended period can take a major toll not just on the health of the parents, but also on their relationship. Being able to take a break allows them to get some desperately-needed rest and spend time with each other and with siblings, who inevitably lose out in terms of parental attention.

Lagan’s Foundation was founded by Bolton-based Carren Bell after she lost her baby daughter Lagan from a heart defect in 2011. The charity now operates nationally. As well as giving parents a break, the Foundation gives parents and guardians the necessary support and information, offers bereavement help when necessary and campaigns to increase awareness of the use of breast milk donation and usage.

The grant from East Lancashire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Carren Bell, Chief Executive of Lagan's Foundation, said: ‘Local authorities, health services and most importantly families and their children, are reliant upon our expertise and the dedication of our carers. This donation will improve the lives of people at their most difficult time and we and they are immensely grateful for it.”

Steve Clark, East Lancashire Charity Steward, added: ‘I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support Lagan’s Foundation. They provide invaluable help and support to parents who often give up everything to help their children and who benefit enormously from the chance to re-charge their batteries.’

A North Wales centre for palliative care has been awarded a £19,000 contribution from North Wales Freemasons towards a new pilot project supporting young people experiencing grief following a bereavement

This ground breaking new Dramatherapy project at St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph, Denbighshire, will allow young people in the local community to express their feelings of grief in a safe environment.

The project has caught the imagination of North Wales Freemasons who have been able to award the grant of £19,000 through the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Dramatherapy is a form of psychological therapy. It provides a way of communicating through stories, music, pictures, fairy tales and metaphors. Theorists suggest it could be a useful way of helping children who are going through bereavement deal with their grief.

St Kentigern Hospice is well experienced in the delivery of bereavement support and has a well-established service available for families and children. However, in the catchment area of the hospice there is a paucity in the variety of support offered.

Dinah Hickish, Consultant Nurse at St Kentigern Hospice, commented: ‘The team are exploring new ideas of how to engage with young people effectively and a drama therapy group will provide an environment outside school and home, to work alongside other young people with similar experiences, before during and after loss. We believe giving young people the opportunity to express themselves in a creative way in a safe and therapeutic environment will be invaluable.

The eight-bed in-patient hospice is currently undergoing a £2.5m expansion and redevelopment of their St Asaph site which will update their facilities for future generations, increase capacity by 50% and include a community café. The start of this new project will coincide with the opening of the Hospice and the hospices silver milestone of their 25th anniversary of delivering specialist palliative care.

David Thomas, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, and Phil James, Provincial Grand Charity Steward, were given a guided tour of the redevelopment and congratulated Hospice Counsellor Merith Shorter for coming up with such an innovative way to benefit the bereaved young people of the local community.

David Thomas said: ‘On behalf of North Wales Freemasons, I am delighted to present a cheque for £19,000 to fund this project. Over the past two decades, St Kentigern Hospice has worked incredibly hard to provide and develop a comfortable and loving environment for people requiring acute care and families needing support following a bereavement.

‘I wish the hospice team every success with this project and hope that many young people will benefit from this new service.’

Merith Shorter added: ‘We are incredibly grateful to North Wales Freemasons for their support which will ensure this project will be available to benefit the young community of this North Wales area.’

Lonely and isolated older people in Holborn, Covent Garden and Bloomsbury will be helped back into community life, thanks to a grant of £77,827 from London Freemasons

The Holborn Community Association Befriending Scheme brings isolated older people together with volunteers from across the community to meet once a week, have a conversation and enjoy activities including sport, games and art. The aim is to help 120 isolated older people locally and build long-lasting relationships across the community. 

Loneliness is increasingly recognised as having a detrimental impact on people’s emotional, physical and mental health. Nationally there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK. In the south of Camden, over 45 per cent of older people live alone, and some areas within the community rank in the top 10-20 per cent of lonely older people in the country.

The Befriending Scheme is part of Holborn Community Association's programme of work for older people. For 30 years, HCA has brought older people together through sport, drama and art activities for everyone over 55 as well as providing day centre care for older people with dementia.

Research has shown that one in five older people are lonely and identified that many older people who live alone rarely see friends, family or neighbours, sometimes going months without having a meaningful conversation with another person. Reports also suggest that loneliness is as bad for a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and those who feel lonely are also more likely to suffer from ill health.

The grant from London Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales. 

Paul Crozier, Director of the Holborn Community Association, said: 'We’re very grateful to London Freemasons for their generous grant, which will allow us to support people who are lonely and isolated in the middle of the UK’s largest city. Our Befriending Scheme gives older people the chance to talk and interact with others. It has a huge impact on isolated older people’s health, how they feel about themselves and how much they feel part of the community around them.'

Adrian Fox, from London Freemasons, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help the Holborn Community Association with their excellent project. Loneliness can lead to depression and a range of physical and mental illnesses. It’s very sad to think that people living in the midst of a city of nearly nine million people can spend months at a time without having a single meaningful conversation with another human being.'

Hundreds of lonely older people in Cornwall will be helped to become more connected to their communities, thanks to a grant of almost £78,000 from Cornwall Freemasons to Royal Voluntary Service
The grant will fund a specially-designed programme which will provide over 200 older people in the area with new opportunities to build social connections and relationships. It will also allow the charity to give more vulnerable older people a link to the community through a Community Companions volunteer who will visit them at home, supporting them with practical help and getting out and about.
Loneliness and social isolation can affect everyone, but older people are particularly vulnerable after the loss of friends and family or reduced mobility. A report by Age UK reported that there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK, and half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. Reports also suggest that loneliness is as bad for a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and those who feel lonely are also more likely to suffer from ill health. 
Surveys conducted by Royal Voluntary Service amongst older people in Cornwall found that just over three quarters (77 per cent) are experiencing loneliness and two thirds (66 per cent) feel they need more help with getting to GP appointments or social activities. 
The grant from Cornwall Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Stephen Pearn, Provincial Grand Master for Cornwall Freemasons, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Royal Voluntary Service with their excellent programme of support for older people.

'Loneliness and social isolation is a real problem in our society, having a serious impact on physical and mental health and quality of life. Ending the social isolation of older people is a major priority for both the Royal Voluntary Service and Freemasons.'

Lisa Knight, Operations Manager for Royal Voluntary Service, said:  'We’re very grateful to Cornwall Freemasons for their generous grant, which will help us build on our existing work supporting older people in Cornwall, organise monthly social activities and recruit volunteers toprovide companionship and practical support to older people in their homes.'

Mike Pritchard, Provincial Grand Charity Steward of Cornwall Freemasons, added: 'Being involved and working with so many different charities within our local communities here in Cornwall, has been an absolute pleasure for me. This latest grant will be a significant boost for the Royal Voluntary Service, here in Cornwall. This will enable them to reach more individuals normally confined to their homes and socially isolated.'

Devonshire Freemasons have given the Exeter based charity Balloons a grant of £10,500 over three years to help in the support of the very worthwhile work they undertake

Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Freemasons, and Dr. Reuben Ayres, Provincial Grand Charity Steward, visited the offices of Balloons to present them with a certificate denoting the grant which was funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) where they met up with Sara Bennett Balloons CEO who kindly showed them round the offices while explaining the work they do with bereaved children and young people in Exeter, Mid and East Devon.

Balloons was first conceived by a small group of healthcare professionals who didn’t have anywhere to refer bereaved children for specialist support. They applied to the lottery who supplied start-up funding back in February 2007. Their services provide grief support to children and young people between the ages of 5 & 25 throughout Exeter, Mid and East Devon. They give one to one support sessions, activity days, family events together with a telephone helpline and training for professionals. They also provide support before an expected bereavement, helping the children to prepare for life without a loved one.    

When presenting the certificate denoting the £10,500 given by the Freemasons of Devonshire and the MCF Ian Kingsbury said that after listening to the stories of support and help that are given by the team at Balloons to so many young children he is more than gratified that this sum of money will in some small way enable the much needed work to continue long into the future.

Sara Bennett replied ‘We are absolutely delighted to have been granted funds from the Freemasons of Devonshire. We are a small and local charity and as such we rely heavily on the generosity of our donors to support our work, and are delighted that the freemasons have seen the value of what we do. In 2018 we provided one to one support to 161 children and young people, and with this injection of funds we know that we will be able to continue to support grieving children when they are at their most vulnerable going forwards. Thank you’

Some of the comments by the children who have received the help from the team at Balloons were:

‘Since Mummy died, talking to my Balloons lady is really good because she doesn’t mind if I get upset but Daddy really minds. He says he wants me to be happy’ – demonstrating the need for a neutral third person for the child to talk to
‘Since Dad died my feelings are all over the place. I feel like hurting people. I don’t hit anyone, but I say mean things…working with Balloons is helping me a lot. No one can bring Dad back but I can get my feelings out and look at them and understand them a bit better’

The British Red Cross has launched a pilot scheme in North Wales to help people build independence and better links with their communities and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions. The move comes thanks to a £84,460 grant from North Wales Freemasons

The Pathways to Better Health service aims to help over-50s in Conwy and Denbighshire who have been identified as needing extra support due to a pattern of frequent hospital attendance or calls to the emergency services.

The project will help people who call 999 or go to emergency departments (ED) more than 12 times a year, many of whom are among the most vulnerable members of our communities with few alternative sources of help. They may have multiple, complex needs including loneliness, social isolation or drug and alcohol dependency issues.

Figures for 2017 show that frequent attenders accounted for 86,000 Welsh ED attendances costing £36.4 million to the NHS.

The scheme, which runs for a year, will enable trained Red Cross staff to work in partnership with emergency services and ED teams to find people who could benefit, and refer them to the service.

The project team will then work with people to identify the root causes of their frequent attendance, and support them to develop coping strategies. By providing emotional and practical support, helping to build confidence, and signposting to other services in their community that could help, the team will aim to increase a person’s health and well-being, independence and resilience.

It is hoped this will reduce the number of calls to the emergency services and visits to the NHS, saving money, freeing up resources and improving the lives of those who are helped by the project.

In a previous pilot project in Swansea, the results revealed 96 per cent of people helped reported a positive change in emotional health, a 70 per cent positive change in physical health and a 69 per cent positive change in reducing loneliness and isolation.

The pilot, which was launched by the British Red Cross in November 2017, covered the Western Bay area in Wales including Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea. It helped 22 people for 16 weeks and resulted in a huge reduction in 999 calls and hospital attendances from the participants.

The grant from North Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Stanislava Sofrenic, Independent Living Operations Manager for Red Cross Wales said: 'We are thrilled to have launched this scheme in North Wales. I’d like to thank North Wales Freemasons for their generous donation, which has enabled us to set up this invaluable scheme.

'Our smaller pilot project in Swansea demonstrated that early intervention with people who use NHS and emergency services frequently has a significant impact both on improving their lives and reducing pressures on NHS and emergency services’ resources. We are looking forward to working with our partner organisations over the next 12 months and helping people across Conwy and Denbighshire.'

John Hoult, Provincial Grand Master for North Wales, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to support the fantastic work being done by the British Red Cross in North Wales. This will have a huge impact on the users of the emergency services and will make a big difference to improving their lives.'

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